The Italy Independent School District kicked off the school year on Monday with a new mission, vision and motto.

This Collaborative Vision Plan 2019 – 2024 “is the result of the work of the superintendent and approximately 20 individuals participating on the collaborative vision design team,” according to a recent press release.

The plan is also a sign of changes being made within the district since long-time educator Dr. Michelle Schwind took over as superintendent earlier this year, replacing Lee Joffre, who held the position for a little over two years.

Schwind and her team looked at the district’s data, including student performance “to determine strengths and weaknesses,” according to the 13-page plan.

 “Our students deserve the very best we have to offer,” Schwind said. “Sometimes, we do need to make changes to ensure student success.”

Under the new mission statement, the district seeks “to maintain a safe and caring environment by partnering with families and the community to inspire lifelong learning for intellectual and personal success for all students.” It replaces the simpler statement of “All students academically prepared.”

“We believe it has been in place since the late 1980s,” said Schwind, explaining the decision to update the mission statement.

Schwind said the aim was not to change everything, but to fine-tune specific areas within the district.

“It’s all about striving to improve those things that need growth and refining those programs and traditions that are already great,” Schwind emphasized.

The district of over 600 students is also emphasizing that the plan is a renewed commitment to making student excellence a top priority through a unified vision that all faculty can adopt and implement.

State officials gave the two-school district an overall ranking of B for the 2018-2019 school year. While student achievement improved from C in the 2017-2018 school year to B, ‘closing the gaps,’ which “tells how well different populations of students in a district are performing,” remained at a C-level.

The vision statement sets the standard for closing those gaps with a bold proposition that “Italy ISD will be a district that sees every child and creates a diverse learning environment to prepare them for an ever-changing world.”

“The district realized that in order to serve our community and students, we had to speak with one voice and let people know what Italy ISD is all about,” Schwind affirmed. “This way, new staff may come in, but they will quickly learn our culture and community standards. It creates one vision for the district.” 

The motto for the district spells out the town’s name: Integrity, Tradition, Authentic, Leadership and You Are Our Tomorrow.

Work on the vision plan started in June and wrapped up in July.

Schwind, who joined Italy ISD from DeSoto ISD, where nearly 100 employees were laid off in May due to a budget shortfall blamed on poor management, said the plan would be revisited annually with input from staff, teachers, parents and the community.

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Patrick Clarke | @PatrickClarke1 | 469-517-1456